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Grobschnitt - The History Of Solar Music Vol. 1 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.48 | 16 ratings

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4 stars Paper balloons

One of my favourite writers on PA just reviewed Grobschnitt's legendary Solar Music Live, and today I thought I'd pitch in in order to help this magnificent piece of work gain some new listeners. Now normally I don't do compilation albums, mostly because they contain tracks that already feature elsewhere in the given artist's catalogue. Yet this monster of a double cd sports 3 different versions of a killer track, and no-where does it feel like too much. In no way whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I can listen to this stuff all day long.

Solar Music is like the love child of Grobschnitt. It is a track that has evolved from a few chord progressions back on their debut, (and I believe even earlier still there were signs of this psychedelic masterpiece) - to the studio version featured on Ballerman, and then again to the hour long live performance it suddenly transformed into. Personally I feel it's like watching a kid grow up, and on these releases - you can actually spot the differences, the pimples, the adolescence and a certain maturity unfold right before your very ears.

On this compilation you get an astonishing version of the track during their famous 78 tour of Germany. This one spans nearly 56 minutes, and it quite simply takes your breath away. On top of that you also get a half hour version from the following year, that is every bit as vibrant and heartfelt. Then you are treated to a long overdue remastering of the original track off Ballerman, which sounds crisp and organic - yet without ever loosing the feel of the real thing. Some times these remastering geniuses manage to erase that special something that made the original track what it was, but luckily so this is not the case here. Finally we catch a glimpse of the humoristic side of the band, such as the opening cut I Walk the Line(?!!!?). This little ditty always makes me chuckle a bit. Just like their colleagues Guru Guru there was a smile and a smirk - a pitch black humour connected with them. Somehow starting the show with a Johnny Cash classic for then to launch into a nuclear musical space shuttle theme - was like second nature to these guys, and I kind of like that facet of them as well.

Alright, that's about it. But what about the music you say? Well if you've never heard Solar Music before, then imagine a sexual meeting between Bobby Beausoleil's Lucifer Rising, Pink Floyd's Embryo, Steve Hillage and perhaps the gentleness of the Soon bit from Yes' Gates of Delirium. 9 months later this psychedelic freak of nature pops out of momma's baking oven!

Together with Popol Vuh's Einsjäger und Siebenjäger, this track is perhaps the closest you'll ever get to symphonic Krautrock. It conjures up these massive grandiose musical structures with blistering guitar solos, wavering wafting keyboards and a frantic locomotive- like rhythm section, that you at times are in limbo between the psychedelic jam element and the towering musical inferno likening to a symphony orchestra. Somewhere in the middle you find this band - and especially this track. It shifts and alters its presence many times during its life - often reduced to these soft slow passages with ethereal keys and fragile soothing guitar mumblings that together amount to an unspeakable beauty.

Another important thing about this kind of music is the dynamics involved. Much of what makes this improvisational space rock flow the way it does is down to long and twisting build ups. I'd go as far and say that nearly half of the music is based upon the slow gradual increase and decrease in sound. I've heard many bands utilize the same sort of approach, but none with such an impeccable and imaginative impact. Whether it's tiny ricocheting bullet drum rolls from ring leader Eroc, or polyphonic synth washes suddenly popping up in the most wonderful way - these wandering sections between the sonic fireworks are every bit as fantastic and beautiful as the actual climaxes. I guess a lot of the modern post-rock bands work within the same spherical approach, but I've honestly never heard anyone walk this musical path as successfully as Grobschnitt did.

If you've ever watched those spectacular ceremonies from Asia, where you place a lit candle in a square paper balloon and watch it float away - then apply this image to music. Hundreds upon hundreds of these wafting light creatures filling the skies creating a living burning organism of light up there in the clouds. This is what Solar Music feels like to me. It's like floating upwards in one of those paper balloons aiming straight for the stratosphere.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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